There was a time in the early 90s when Mordred playing at The Marquee in London seemed to be a biannual occurrence. Of course, that venue has long since gone. And the band themselves disappeared around the same time.
Mordred, live in London
Venue: Islington O2 Academy
Mordred live at the Islington O2 Academy
Well, The Marquee may not have returned, but Mordred certainly have. What's more, they're as good as they ever were. Frontman Scott Holderby might be a little more, erm, rotund than he was in Mordred's comparative glory days. But his energy and vivacity are unimpaired, as is also the case for the rest of this Bay Area squad.
This is arguably the band's classic line-up, the one featured on In This Life, the 1991 album that should have made them major players. And despite the bijou size of this venue, not to mention the fact that there's barely 100 people in here, this is a massive performance.
Sidling on with no intro and no introduction, Mordred might have looked as if they were unsure what to expect, but quickly find their rhythm with State Of Mind and Spectacle Of Fear. They don't turn the calendar back to the early 90s because this isn't a nostalgia trip. While the set is pretty much what the band would have played when they last played in the UK over 20 years ago, it's delivered with a sense of pride and power that shows a primal dedication.
Holderby loses no opportunity to express the band's delight at being back onstage together, and their gratitude to those who've braved the Bank Holiday rain to bop and jump along to Fragrance Of Vagrants, Killing Time and Spellbound. There's even one new song, current single The Baroness, showing the band are still capable of writing significant music.
Highlights, though, are the raptastic Esse Quam Videri and a stunning cover of Thin Lizzy's Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed. But the whole occasion is simply a joy. The atmosphere, the musicianship, the song choice... it all works. And Mordred's combination of metal, funk and hip-hop sounds convincingly contemporary.